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November 20, 2010

Roses are out

Not technically, of course, but realistically. Ohio State's comeback win at Iowa (man, are the Buckeyes in the Hawkeyes' heads or what?) means MSU can win next week to finish 11-1 and still almost certainly wind up at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1.

    That is, unless you think Michigan can win at Ohio State. Even if the Buckeyes win and the Badgers somehow lose at home to Northwestern without Dan Persa, there's no guarantee the Big Ten would get a second BCS bid. U-M is the Spartans' only hope for a trip to Pasadena (I'm assuming the OSU win at Iowa puts the Buckeyes ahead of Wisconsin in the BCS rankings, which is the determining factor if MSU, OSU and Wisconsin finish in a three-way tie) -- and judging from today's performance in Ann Arbor, that defense isn't exactly peaking as it streaks into Columbus. If Ohio State goes Rose, could MSU beat Wisconsin for an at-large bid? I'd call it highly doubtful. I'd give it a 5 percent chance.

    If Wisconsin does stay ahead of Ohio State in the rankings, it's a three-way tie and the Badgers go to Pasadena, could MSU beat Ohio State for an at-large bid? Did I really just ask that question? Zero percent.

    Speaking of not peaking, MSU is not playing its best football of the season. The defense was pretty bad for most of today, and the offense kept stalling in Purdue territory. But you have to give the Spartans credit for fighting through it all, especially Kirk Cousins. His left shoulder and left ankle are "very, very tender," he said after the game, revealing that the ankle has been bothering him for a few weeks -- which helps explain some of the "back foot" issue. But he made big plays, as did Mark Dell, as did Greg Jones, as did Denicos Allen, as did Kevin Pickelman, as did Eric Gordon, as did B.J. Cunningham, as did Chris L. Rucker and Chris Norman.

    The bottom line is, next week is for a championship. And the Spartans have six Big Ten championships in their history. The destination has to be a secondary issue at this point, because it probably won't be what the Spartans or you want.

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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